Original Date: 11/03/1996
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Controls Research Engineering Workbench
The design/development of software controls or logic for mechanical, thermal, and fluid systems can be a detailed, iterative process. At times, this control system development process may slow down the test and production stages, or hamper the optimal operation of the end product. To improve the process, the researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) developed a portable, turnkey system called Controls Research Engineering Workbench (CREW). The CREW workstation (Figure 2-2), a Pentium-based laptop computer, uses advanced control system simulation, analysis, and design software to design and troubleshoot control systems. Its major advantage is its portability. The entire system can be stored in a suitcase and carried by one person to the customer’s site to solve industrial control problems.
Previously, control-system designs tended to use classical theory descriptions such as Bode, Nyquist and Root Locus. Implementation with actual systems often required the tuning of a proportional-integral-differential feedback loop during the development process. Additionally, the lack of prototyping methods for manufacturers prevented the use of many new techniques currently available.
By using comprehensive, integrated software and hardware tools, the CREW workstation provides a unified approach to control system research and development. The workstation bridges the gap between automated control system practices, classical theories, and modern theories through its modeling and simulation; system identification; symbolic computation; control system analysis and design; hardware implementation of controllers; and in-situ validation of control strategies. The available control strategies include classical as well as modern methods of adaptive control, fuzzy logic, and neural networks. The CREW workstation consists of an embedded, digital signal processor with analog and digital input/output, and control engineering software which runs on a standard laptop computer. The developers at the Oak Ridge Centers for Manufacturing Technology (ORCMT) incorporated many commercial-off- the-shelf (COTS) software packages, allowing for mathematical and block diagram representation of the system; exercise of control parameters; and creation of C-programming code for specific applications.
The CREW workstation has many advantages over current control system development processes. Portability and decreased design/development time produces time and labor savings. The CREW system encourages the use of sophisticated control algorithms which improves product quality, control precision, and operational performance. Applicabilities for the CREW workstation include the steel, automotive, semiconductor, chemical, paper, metal casting industries, and electric power plants.
Figure 2-2. Controls Research Engineering Workbench Workstation
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